synchronicity and the Vox AC 50


During my long lasting search for genuine 60’s sounds I experienced several cases of synchronicity: first a friend of mine purchased an original 1967 Fender Stratocaster guitar, which is an absolute rarity, and I was so lucky to receive the request to restore it. Many of the sound tracks on this blog were played on this very special guitar. Mind you, 1967 was the year of psychedelic music!

Few weeks later an acquaintance told me he owned a real old amplifier plus a speaker cabinet, but he was forced to store it in the attic for lack of space in his house. I could have it assembled in my studio, if I liked to. Of course I liked to!

It turned out to be a Vox AC 50, equipment also used by The Beatles, and its manufacturing date must be around 1965. It was in a rather bad condition, the speaker cones rotten, and all the knobs on the amplifier crackling for slack joints. Much more repair work was required than I could accomplish.

But just around the time when I was pondering what to do, I met an old friend from school, whose job was exactly repairing amplifiers! Could anybody be as fortunate as me?

Sparing you the details, after multiple efforts I ended up having just the authentic equipment for my future creative plans without paying that much for it. The power of the universe had colluded to provide what I needed – that’s what it felt like. So for me this is not about technical facts and such – it’s about synchronicity. And smell.

Smell? Well, the so-called vintage equipment has a smell of its own, known as a fact among vintage freaks. And it’s true. Like incense, there is an inspiring smell of old wood and spices in my studio, reminding me of the vibration of a distant past. The amplifier spreads its perfume all over my room whenever it’s switched on.

Sound? Oh, I forgot: the stack sounds fantastic, not with any guitar and depending on the situation, but I’d definitely miss something without it.

guitar & gear: what you see is what you hear

5 Replies to “synchronicity and the Vox AC 50”

  1. Very moving in a visual and physical way. Maybe because you mentioned the smell of vintage gear … I also got a ‘smell’ coming from the music. It reminded me of the smoke rising from some lovely incense I bought when I was away (Chandan). The smoke of incense has a great way of dancing depending on how the wind moves it. The music was playing and I was standing in my room and started to move my hands, arms, etc. Gradually I was moving slowly, kind of like tai chi – or like a tree, with my feet planted where I stood. It felt like I was unwinding.

  2. I’m kind of relieved now. Before that I wished I had put a better tune here. This one I recorded about one month ago, and listening, I’m quite unsatisfied with it. Although the theme is nice, I find I could have done it better.
    But I will write about this in an upcoming post (“mistakes”). It turns out the music is developing over time.
    So all the more I’m grateful about your vivid depiction, Elspeth. I can almost visualize your slow dancing (then I lit an incense stick, quite sure the scent won’t get over to you. continents. oceans.)

  3. The synchronicity of all the things that had to come together for you but did makes me think of the definition of pronoia: the suspicion that the entire universe is conspiring to shower you with blessings. I enjoyed this piece; it has the harder rock part in the middle, but most of it is sweetness.

  4. Beautiful guitar, and a great amp. I suppose this is one on the valve Vox amps, just before they went solid state (and downhill). A really nice bell like tone in your clip. You’ve got to love that big headstock on the late sixties stratocasters!

  5. Hendrix loved the big headstock – at least this is one of the strats he could have played! The AC 50 is provided with EL 34 tubes, as are most Marshall amps. But the amp designs seem to be rather different, so it’s not a Marshall, definitely. But it has this rough kind of distortion, and a heavy bass response (it was also used as a bass amp).
    I regard it as an amp in it’s own right, not like the other Vox amps, that have EL 84 tubes.

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